Colts horsecollar Saints
By Mike Detillier - Sep 13, 2007
Have you ever anticipated a television show or movie and when you finally get to watch it, you came away very disappointed?
Well, if you are a Saints fan, you felt the same way last Thursday night when the Saints got beat by the defending world champion Indianapolis Colts 41-10.
The good news is that the Saints will not play a better football team all season long, but the bad news is that the Colts again exposed an area of concern from last season, stopping the run.
Give the Colts defense full credit because they were a lot better than advertised, but the most shocking part of the Saints defeat was that the young Colts defense turned the high-powered Saints attack into a throwback to the ‘Mike Ditka’ era.
The speedy and very physical Colts defense gave little space for quarterback Drew Brees to get the football downfield via the air and the Saints vaunted running game looked like an average unit at best.
I am convinced that Saints head coach Sean Payton will straighten out the problems on the offensive side of the ball because he has the proper personnel and the coaching skills to do so, but what is a concerning part of this team is the woes they have on defense.
After watching cornerback Jason David get beat repeatedly on deep throws many would say he is the weak link to this unit, but I have watched David enough to know he is a solid NFL starter and his game, along with the secondary, will improve throughout the season.
But I am not so sure about the Saints ability to consistently stop an opponent’s running game.
Last season when a team beat the Saints they slowed down the high-powered attack, played a little ball control football and ran the football against New Orleans.
While Peyton Manning had a terrific night at the office, especially in the second half, it was all set up by the Colts running game and in particular former LSU halfback Joseph Addai.
Addai rushed for 118 of the Colts 164 rushing yards and when they needed the tough yards on third down, the Colts got the yardage to move the chains.
Last season the Saints gave up an average of 129 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry to opposing offenses.
With holes at defensive tackle and middle linebacker obvious to even the average football fan, this will be an area of concern all season.
If the Saints can’t control the tempo of a game early then every team will follow this blueprint and run the football against them.
That was the big difference in the football game. The Saints rushed the football 26 times, three less than the Colts, but the Saints could only muster 106 total yards on the ground and for the first time in the Sean Payton era, they did not score an offensive touchdown.
In a nutshell, the Colts defense set the tone of the game early due to their speed and physical play in the first half and then Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison and the Colts offensive line set the tone in the second half.
It was a first class butt-whipping by the Colts to the Saints.
Just remember that one game does not make a season.
I remember back in 2003 when the New England Patriots loss the first game of the regular season to an average Buffalo Bills team 31-0 and then they got their football rhythm back in tune to win the Super Bowl title that season.
The really good news is that the New Orleans Saints are in the NFC and to be honest I really believe that the Saints are every bit as good as any other contender in that conference, but there are three to five teams in the AFC that are better.
In the five games of the Sean Payton era, the Saints are 1-4 against teams in the AFC and if you are wondering if the Colts have lost too much in free agency to again get to the Big Show in February, your questions were answered last Thursday.
Believe me the Saints will not face an opponent as technically sound as the Colts are on offense all season long, but there are concerns about just how good this defense can be up-front, especially if defensive tackle Hollis Thomas does not play up to his 2006 form.
It will be a long week before the Saints face the Buccaneers.
Mike Detillier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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